February 8, 2002
1:26 AM   Subscribe

Great Jumpin' Jehosephats of Juxtoposition! The American Taliban & how he and his community from which he sprung should be viewed: Each side making their case.
One however, brilliant and equanimious. The other whiny and accusatory. Decide: A or B
posted by crasspastor (9 comments total)
I think that both articles have problems of tone, but just because the tone is bad doesn't mean the author hasn't got a decent point.
posted by palegirl at 1:56 AM on February 8, 2002

The articles are clearly written for different audiences, but both have valid points to make. The fact is that that for every Walker there will be millions who can still love America despite their self-hating liberal upbringing. For every Harris and Klebold there will be millions of God-fearing patriots who will only open up in self-defence.

I must say, for me the comparison grates anyway: surely it is a far greater crime to massacre innocent children, than it is to join an army fighting for something you believe in?
posted by ksLimbs at 2:42 AM on February 8, 2002


You seemed to have mixed up your link order, although I do think that "brilliant" is somewhat overstated. How about just "blatantly obvious?" Yes, that should do nicely. I mean, while Danny does have a tendency to hyperventilation and door nob licking, he does have a point with the whole Columbine thing.

(p.s. - On the Columbine tip, and for another example of the joys that can be found within conservative, suburban enclaves, may I suggest Our Boys, by Bernard Lefkowitz.

Taking a cue from my distinguished Sociology of Religion teacher here at the ol' UW, Walker actually fits quite well the demographic for those who would be open to joining "cult" religions - he is intelligent, educated, and relatively privileged. It's not the loser's who join cults, it's the smart outcasts. Go figure. (And a nod to Matt, our Jim Jones if there ever was one.)

Now where are those pancakes with Kool-Aid syrup that I've been hearing so much about?
posted by edlark at 4:05 AM on February 8, 2002

John Walker is not the only traitorous son of America. Millions of us young white males listened to Hip Hop and as a result are itchin' to take up arms. Most of us don't have the ambition to travel to Afghanistan, however.
posted by pekar wood at 6:29 AM on February 8, 2002

self-hating liberal

I nominate this for the Worst Current Meme Award. Who is the "self" here? If I (hypothetically) hate the actions of my government, I don't hate myself. My government is not me. Disagree with me all you like, but trying to delegitimize a viewpoint by implying it comes out of some neurosis won't wash.
posted by rodii at 6:34 AM on February 8, 2002

The real juxtaposition is that one article is whiny but right on target, the other is reasonable-sounding but wrong and stupid.

The long, resonable-sounding one acknowledges the most important fact--that 99.999% of people raised like John Walker do not join the Taliban--and then promptly ignores it again, probing Walker's father's homosexuality, the "permissive" way he was raised, etc. concluding:

Walker, in the end, is an eccentric case study in the consequences of disorder in the family. He’s what you get — or, more precisely, one example of what you get — when the family ceases to operate as a locus of moral authority.

But that is total BS. (My friend who teaches high-school called something BS in class the other day. One of his students coyly asked, "what does BS mean?" He responded, "Britney Spears.") 99.999% of kids who are products of "disorder in the family" do not turn out like John Walker, therefore there must be some other explaination for why he did what he did.

For all the author or anyone knows, John Walker could have been raised by strict, loving, conservative Christians and still found himself attracted (for whatever the real reason was) to Malcom X, Islam, the Taliban, etc. Maybe having a dad who was gay had something to do with it, but given the tiny tiny sample size we have no way of knowing whether that or any other detail of his upbringing was a significant influence on Walker's decisions.
posted by straight at 6:41 AM on February 8, 2002

Wow -- Dan Savage actually wrote an article that wasn't about granny-banging or how to keep poop off your dick? Amazing...
posted by spilon at 7:24 AM on February 8, 2002

spilon, Savage also writes a regular column in addition to his sex-advice column. During the 2000 campaign he was doing political reporting -- in an article for Salon, he talked about going to Iowa, working as a volunteer in a GOP campaign office, having the flu, licking the doorknobs in an attempt to spread it, and then going to an Iowa caucus meeting and gaining entrance by claiming to be an Iowa voter. He was investigated for both actions. The first he claimed was a joke, not something he had really done, but he had actually gone to the caucus and was cited for violating Iowa election law.

Whether this street-theater approach to political reporting should figure into one's opinion of his present work is up to you.
posted by dhartung at 12:34 PM on February 8, 2002

It amazes me that such sweeping claims about our culture are made based on a case study of one person.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 9:39 AM on February 10, 2002

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